Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rowe And the Footwork King
As Eric Rowe progressed through OTAs last month, he realized he had a problem. Although the second-year cornerback seems to be one of the better positioned players to win a starting job, he returned home to Houston and met up with Rischad Whitfield almost immediately.
Rowe has worked with Whitfield, better known as the “Footwork King” who boasts Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as clients, since the week after mandatory minicamp ended, and will continue to do so multiple times per week until he leaves his hometown in July.
“The main area of concentration is breaking on the top of routes, whether it’s a curl, dig or comeback,” Rowe told Birds 24/7. “I’m trying to reduce my steps it takes me to break on the ball, because I was taking too many in the OTAs. Honestly, it really wasn’t working out, so that’s why I told him I needed help to reduce my steps and get out of my breaks quicker.”
Rowe originally heard about Whitfield from a high school friend, and he first worked out with the trainer who lived around the corner from his parents’ Texas home last year. In addition to Rowe’s feet, Whitfield is working with the 23-year-old on his hips and eyes.
Whitfield says the biggest growth he’s seen from Rowe in the last year is how much quicker his hips move, but that he wants to continue to work on the Utah product’s feet to build off the success Rowe had as a rookie.
“I got to keep his feet underneath him when he comes out of those breaks, because sometimes he’ll get kind of out of control because he’s playing so hard and he’ll slip and lose his footing,” Whitfield told Birds 24/7.
Whitfield, who also works with Josh Huff and Marcus Johnson, passed along a couple of videos to show the type of drills Rowe does during training.
Here, Rowe is working on getting his hips to flip quickly and open up while maintaining body control through the Octagon. Then, he’s trying to ensure his breaks are fast and efficient.
In this one, Rowe’s trying to develop a quick twitch by quickly getting his hips to turn around each cone, followed by a smooth transition into the shuttle technique, the open and run and then breaking down and closing on a curl route.
“It helps because in practice or OTAs, we only get like five minutes to work on stuff like that, and then it’s off to the team period,” Rowe said. “Going to him and getting a lot of reps helps me turn it into second nature — the fundamentals of keeping my feet tighter, moving my arms and making it muscle memory.”
Rowe added that since his early appearances against the Jets and the first Washington game last season, he’s thought about how he had more trouble than he would’ve liked getting his feet down soon after he started moving against quick stop routes. Although those underneath throws won’t kill the defense, he says he wants to be able to at least challenge them.
The competition for one of the two outside jobs is also pushing Rowe during the players’ time off until they report to training camp in five weeks.
“Oh, yeah. Of course. The competition is heavy and I’m trying to get into a starting role,” Rowe said. “With Leodis [McKelvin], Ron [Brooks], Nolan [Carroll] coming back and all of the other corners, there’s a lot of competition. I feel like I got to stay on top of my game just to get in there and compete.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
If Sam Bradford has an outstanding season this year, what will happen with him? That and Josh Huff’s spot on the roster in our Birds 24/7 Mailbag.
“This is just my opinion, but I feel like sometimes younger quarterbacks see the seam better.” The Texas Concept and how Doug Pederson may use it to feature Zach Ertz.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Malcolm Jenkins went on Comcast Sportsnet’s Quick Slants and talked about the culture and how it’s changed after Chip Kelly left.
It’s important to players. They want to start to establish a culture, start to establish a core group of guys that we’ll build around…A lot of successful teams have players that stick around.
With the NBA Draft tonight, Sam Donnellon of the Daily News asks if Carson Wentz or Ben Simmons will have a bigger impact with their respective team.
If Simmons lacks the motor that made him such a debatable pick and flames out, is that really worse than if Wentz’s gaudy statistics prove to be a reflection of his FCS schedule and not franchise quarterback talent? If he can’t handle the speed of the NFL or even outrun NFL linebackers?
Isn’t he the most important single athlete in town right now, and for at least the next three seasons? If Simmons isn’t everything they hope, can’t the Sixers still prosper with the talent they have accumulated and the talent heading in? But if Wentz is a bust, how far back does that set the Eagles?
In a town where the all-sports station features a daily football show in June, where a day doesn’t go by without the football team’s past, present and future discussed on the radio, in bars and in print, how can Wentz’s pedigree not trump Simmons’?
In other Philly sports news, the Sixers will kick off the NBA Draft tonight at 8 on ESPN. Philly Mag’s Derek Bodner will be all over that.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.